Barca Blaugranes Awards: Best Player

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19: Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona (C) celebrates with his teammates Lionel Messi (L) and Xavi Hernandez after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between FC Barcelona and FC Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou on October 19, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The domestic season has been finished for a few weeks now, and with the UEFA European Championships now in full swing it seems as good a time as any to reflect on the past season. For FC Barcelona, 2011/12 has been far from idyllic, but it has been historic nonetheless. While domestic and continental success may have evaded the Catalans (at least in comparison to previous seasons under Pep Guardiola), the 2011/12 season will go down in the history books as one of the more important in recent memory.

With that in mind, this is the first post of many that will be dedicated to remembering the past season, and celebrating some of the better moments we have had following the Blaugrana over the past twelve months or so. While the award "categories" and the nominees may have been thought of by me and Bostjan, these are your awards. Each daily post will detail a number of nominees with a synopsis of each player/event depending on the award, and at the end of each article will be a poll for you to vote for your winner. Each poll will be open for eight days from the date of publish and after those eight days there will be a follow-up article in which the winner will be announced.

So, with that out of the way, we can focus on the first award and while we all have a sneaking suspicion who might win, you just never know! The only criteria for the Best Player Award is that it is indeed a player, and that he has played for Barcelona this season. I suppose that goes without saying though, join us after the jump for a rundown of the nominees.

Xavi Hernández


Like a vintage wine, some might say Xavi improves with each passing season. While he is unable to play as regularly as previous seasons thanks to a number of niggling injuries including that troublesome Achilles, his influence on the team and World Football as a whole is far from waning. In fact, this season was Xavi’s best in terms of goals scored and his assist tally is still up there with the best in the team. With the arrival of Cesc Fàbregas, some suggested that Xavi’s time at the top was coming to a close, but I think it’s fair to say a year later that the midfield maestro will be around for some time yet. Xavi’s contribution of 30 goals in 51 games just emphasises his importance.

Games Played

Minutes Played

Goals Scored

Goal Assists

51

3731

14

16

Andrés Iniesta


Well, what can you say about Andrés Iniesta? Aside from Lionel Messi, he is arguably the best footballer (or at least the most technically gifted) on the planet, and on his day, he can even rival the Argentine. Iniesta is well-known for his ability to score decisive goals in clutch situations, but what stands out most for me is his almost telepathic link with Xavi and Messi, and the sensational goals it can produce. Everyone knows how important Andrés is to the team, and that was reinforced when he first equalled and then surpassed Emilio Butragueño’s record for the most successive games unbeaten in La Liga. Andrés nearly went the entire league season unbeaten before Real Madrid’s win in El Clasico put an end to his 53 game streak (thanks Luis!). Simply phenomenal.

Games Played

Minutes Played

Goals Scored

Goal Assists

45

3088

8

12

Javier Mascherano


Perhaps the revelation of the season not only for Barcelona, but in La Liga and football in general, Javier Mascherano made a seamless switch from midfield destroyer to unstoppable centre-back, in the process effectively benching Gerard Piqué – a player who many consider to be one of the best centre-backs in the modern game. Time after time, El Jefecito was the calming influence at the back, whether he was executing inch-perfect slide tackles or outmuscling a striker over twice his size. Over the course of the season he made 51 appearances for the Blaugrana, and was a regular feature for all the "big" games. Still awaiting his first goal in Barcelona colours, the statistics below certainly don’t do him justice.

Games Played

Minutes Played

Goals Scored

Goal Assists

51

4406

0

0

Sergio Busquets


Some questioned Pep Guardiola’s decision to sell Yaya Toure. Others prefer to look at Busquets as nothing less than an amateur dramatic, or if you are a fan of unconfirmed "conspiracies", some prefer to claim that Sergio Busquets is a racist. But whatever your personal opinion, there is no escaping the fact that Busquets is a world-class player, and is almost certainly the best in the world in his position. Over the course of the season we have seen Busquets evolve as a footballer, and now more than ever we can see just how vital he is to the Barcelona way. In the middle of the field it is Busquets more than any other player who dictates the tempo and it is Busquets’ influence that pushes those possession figures above the 70% marker. At just 23, it’s almost scary how complete a footballer he is.

Games Played

Minutes Played

Goals Scored

Goal Assists

52

4066

2

3

Lionel Messi


Unlike Mascherano and Busquets, the stats do tell the story of Messi’s season. 73 goals scored and 37 assists, even half of either total would represent a good season for most top level footballers, but Lionel Messi is not like us mere mortals. Contributing 110 goals for his club alone this season...it’s a super-human total in an unforgettable season for the Argentine magician. Unless he goes and betters himself next season, this is the one season that will go down in the history books as the best ever by a single player. Think of all the records he has broken; Messi is now the all-time top scorer for FC Barcelona, the only player to score five in a Champions League game, the only player to win the UCL golden boot on four successive occasions; the list goes on and on. Bizarrely some criticised him for his showings in the final Clasico of the season and in the Chelsea matches, yet he was involved in everything and anything good or threatening in those matches. Messi is also as "clutch" as they come, holding the record for most goals in the UCL knockout stage. While I appreciate the effort of the other nominees, quite simply no-one gets close to Messi.

Games Played

Minutes Played

Goals Scored

Goal Assists

60

5224

73

37

NB: All stats courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk


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